By-election triggered after long-standing Gore councillor Bret Highsted resigns in fresh blow for Mayor Ben Bell

  • 04/04/2023

Gore is in for a by-election upon news long-standing councillor Bret Highsted has handed in his resignation. 

It's the latest headache for the Gore District Council amid reports 23-year-old Ben Bell - New Zealand's youngest-ever Mayor - and chief executive Stephen Parry aren't on speaking terms. 

Highsted, who has spent six terms on council, is leaving due to high levels of stress and "unsustainable anxiety" within the council environment post-election, according to a copy of his resignation letter seen by Newshub.

The letter was sent to Deputy Mayor Keith Hovell. Highsted also reportedly had a fractured relationship with Bell. 

Parry said Highsted's contribution would be missed.

"His peers and staff respected him for his agile mind and dedication to his role," Parry said in a press release.

Highsted's resignation would trigger a by-election, which could cost ratepayers more than $30,000.

"I have been advised the cost of a by-election, if it's contested, would be approximately $34,000," a Gore District Council spokeswoman told Newshub.

"If the by-election was not contested the cost drops to approximately $3500."

Neither Bell nor Highsted have responded to Newshub's repeated requests for comment. 

Highsted had requested privacy and wouldn't be commenting on the resignation, the council said.